“I blacked out. I don’t really remember. I think I threw my gear. I don’t know. I just remember everyone coming at me and I couldn’t breathe.”
That was L.A. defenseman Alec Martinez, speaking about his goal at 14:43 of double overtime in Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, which gave the Kings their second championship in three years.
It was, as you’d expect, quite the moment. And even though Martinez said he couldn’t remember exactly what happened, all he needed to do was rely on memory — last spring, the 27-year-old rearguard had plenty of experience scoring huge goals in extra time.
Twelve days prior to his Cup-winner, Martinez won the Western Conference Final against Chicago in remarkably similar fashion, with this tally in overtime of Game 7:
“He’s the magic man, I guess,” Kings forward Trevor Lewis said, per NHL.com. “He’s played unbelievable for us. I can’t say enough about him.”
The playoff run was filled with historical benchmarks for both Los Angeles and Martinez. The Kings became just the fourth team in NHL history to rally from 0-3 down in their opening-round win over the Sharks, then became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s (on the road, no less) in the same playoff season to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Martinez, meanwhile, went from being an occasional occupant in head coach Darryl Sutter’s doghouse — he was a healthy scratch 10 times during the regular season — to a part of hockey folklore. The Michigan native became just the 16th player in NHL history to score a Cup-winning goal in overtime, and one of only four defensemen — Bobby Orr, Bill Barilko and Uwe Krupp are the others — to accomplish the feat.
Martinez, though, wasn’t interested in claiming his stake for fame.
“It’s not about me or the goal. It’s about the L.A. Kings and the guys in that room,” he said following the Cup-winning goal. “We did something special. We knew we were a good team.
“Now we know we’re a great team.”